17 assists, 110 dribbles – What Manchester United are getting for £59.7m

Angel Di Maria Argentina

Manchester United have signed one of the best players in the world in Angel di Maria, who was a star in his four years at Real Madrid.

On Tuesday evening, Manchester United announced the signing of Angel di Maria from Real Madrid for a British record transfer fee of £59.7 million on a five-year contract.

The future of the Argentina international winger at Madrid had been cast into doubt weeks ago, and with the arrivals of Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez in July, it became clear that he will be sold.

Paris Saint-Germain were interested in the former Benfica star, but Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations restricted them from making an offer that would suit Madrid.

United swooped in and finally on Tuesday they officially secured the signature of one of the best wingers in the world, a star who was key in his country reaching the final of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Statistics do not always tell the whole story, but in the case of United’s latest recruit they do.

  TeamCrossesGoalsChances createdGoal AssistTotal Scoring AttTotal DribblesApps
Angel di Maria Real Madrid 264 4 91 17 58 110 34

Perhaps the most outstanding of the stats is the number of assists that Di Maria has provided for Madrid in the past four years.

Since August 2010, the former Rosario Central star has provided 49 assists in domestic league fixtures.

That’s just seven fewer than his former Madrid teammate and current Arsenal playmaker Mesut Ozil and only eight fewer than Lionel Messi of Barcelona. In fact, Di Maria is the third highest assist-provider in major European leagues in the past four seasons.

Last season was arguably Di Maria’s best. He was a key player in Madrid’s 10th Champions League triumph, won the Copa del Rey as well, and found himself nominated for the Golden Ball award in Brazil.

In terms of stats, Di Maria provided 17 assists in La Liga in 2013-14 and created a goalscoring chance for his teammates every 26 minutes – 91 in total. In the Champions League, he had 399 passes – an average of one every two minutes.

One area where Di Maria was found wanting in the 2013-14 campaign was his shooting prowess. Just 58.6 % of his shots were on target in the Spanish top flight and 53.3% in the Champions League.

Another area where Di Maria is not among the best is in scoring goals. He has bagged a total of 57 goals in 352 matches – an average of one every six matches.

But in his four years at Madrid (and with the Argentina national team), Di Maria’s task was not to score goals but to create them. And that he did brilliantly, as demonstrated by the aforementioned stats.

With Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain (now at Napoli) and Gareth Bale in the team, Madrid did not require Di Maria to score goals.

That is something that the Red Devils manager, Louis van Gaal, may like Di Maria to do, but even if he doesn’t, the Dutchman will get other great things from the Argentine.

Di Maria is inundated with pace, dribbling skills, energy and tactical awareness, and as he showed last season at the Santiago Bernabeu, he is also willing to reinvent himself.

There have been some concerns about where Di Maria will play in Van Gaal’s 3-5-2 formation, but United fans can rest assured that their new Argentina star will be able to fit anywhere in the team.

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